Dover’s Playtex Energizer Personal Care facility may need to grow once the company finishes moving its Montreal, Canada, factory to the First State in the next few years.
St. Louis-based Energizer Holdings, which owns both facilities, announced the consolidation June 8. The move is expected to bring several hundred jobs to the Dover between 2015 and 2017.
“We are accepting the news with a lot of enthusiasm,” Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said. “We’re looking at anywhere between 350 and 400 jobs either migrating here or being created for the Dover economy.”
Energizer Holdings lists 475 employees at its Dover plant, while the Montreal plant employs 430. Currently, Playtex/Energizer is the 14th largest employer in Kent County. If the move goes through as planned, it could take over fifth or sixth place.
Christiansen said the news came as a pleasant surprise, particularly because the city offered no incentives for Energizer to move production to Dover.
“This was a corporate decision they made in-house,” the mayor said. “They already have a core operation in Dover, and that made it the right decision to move.”
Playtex has been a force in Dover’s economy since the 1940s when it was named the International Latex Corporation,. The Dover plant currently manufactures a line of feminine care products, as well as baby care items. The move would add the Carefree, Stayfree and o.b. feminine product lines now produced in Montreal.
While good news for the Capital City, the move will come at the expense of the Montreal plant, which will be shutting down over the same period of time.
Chelsey Watts, a spokeswoman for Energizer Holdings, said closing the Montreal facility is part of a company-wide restructuring program that began in 2012. The restructuring is expected to result in a reduction of more than 10 percent of the company’s workforce and a cost savings of approximately $300 million by the program's completion in 2016. Lyla Radmonivich, a spokeswoman for the Montreal plant said the move also would save on labor and transportation costs, the latter by having Energizer’s manufacturing facilities closer to its North American markets.
“They conducted a very thorough assessment of the manufacturing footprint in light of the restructuring program,” she said. “It was a good business decision, although a very difficult decision.”
Plans put forward by the company would result in Energizer splitting into two companies, with Playtex becoming part of its Energizer Personal Care, Watts added.
Watts said it is too early to provide any figures on what salary ranges will be once the plant completes its relocation to Dover. She also said she could not discuss employee salaries at the Montreal plant. Montreal plant workers’ salaries are set by a local union, while the Dover plant is not unionized.
It also may be too early to decide if the Dover plant will need additional room, and if so, how much. Dover’s Playtex plant, located on Walker Road, currently encompasses roughly 500,000 square feet, while the Montreal facility covers 578,000 square feet.
“We’re still evaluating that,” Watts said. “We gave ourselves a long period of time to make this transition. Some equipment will have to be transferred. Some of the machinery in Montreal is pretty complex. We haven’t determined yet if additional space will be required.”
Christiansen said his office is staying in touch with Energizer executives to make the transition as smooth as possible.
And although he sees the news as positive, Christiansen said he is tempering his enthusiasm with caution.
“I’m not going to take a victory lap just yet, because corporations make turn-on-a-dime decisions,” the mayor said. “But we’re very optimistic that they’re going to come here.”